Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

Hong Kong-bound Luke Ferraris will be earning real money from September, but this season’s jockey sensation will not mind pocketing his percentage of the R625,000 first prize in Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge at Greyville.

Ferraris will leave for the former British colony in August so has a chance of more grade 1 successes and possibly the Vodacom Durban July.

His July chance will come under the microscope when the Cape Met winner Rainbow Bridge takes on eight rivals in the Challenge which includes Queen’s Plate victor Jet Dark and 2020 July winner Belgarion.

Eric Sands’s star showed he had lost none of his zest on his KwaZulu-Natal reappearance and is understandably quoted at odds-on in the betting market.

With Jet Dark not entered for the July, the focus of attention will be on Belgarion who S’manga Khumalo partners for the first time. One media report says the 2013 July winning jockey has already been booked for the big race, though one would imagine Richard Fourie will be as interested as anyone to see how the son of Dynasty performs on Saturday.

The grapevine has it that Fourie will desert 2020s winner in favour of Do It Again who blew away the cobwebs with a narrow recent win at Greyville. It was a shallow race which only told us the six-year-old is alive and well.

Fourie will surely have to consider that Belgarion and Do It Again met in the Cape Met (at level weights) and the latter finished three lengths behind the July winner.

Which brings us to Queen’s Plate winner Jet Dark, who Fourie is presumably riding because the three-year-old is co-owned by Nic Jonsson. As Saturday’s grade 1 race has always been his mission, he is sure to strip a fit horse and may pose a threat to Rainbow Bridge.

Sean Tarry’s five-year-old, Cirillo, might be overpriced at 16-1 and it could pay to take swingers coupling the son of Pomodoro with the favourite.

In 2019 Cirillo’s form included a two-length defeat by Rainbow Bridge and last year he finished a close third behind Golden Ducat and Rainbow Bridge in the Champions Cup. More recently, owner Chris van Niekerk’s horse has finished a creditable third behind Got The Greenlight in the Champions Challenge at Turffontein making a mockery of his 50-1 starting price.

As far as the July is concerned, the five-year-old’s best chance of success may be to adopt the same tactics as Serpentine in the 2020 Epsom Derby — establish a big lead and try to hang on. In fact, such a move would be interesting on Saturday.

Ridden by Luke Ferraris, Seeking The Stars ran an excellent second behind Linebacker in the KZN Guineas and Van Niekerk partners the four-year-old for the first time. He has never won beyond 1,400m so seems unlikely to take top honours despite representing a red-hot stable.

However, a Vaughan Marshall runner who will certainly be getting my each-way money is Incredibill who looks to have a chance of giving Cosmic Highway and Party Time a run for their money in the fourth race, The Gatecrasher Stakes.

Whether the 4kg Incredibill receives from Cosmic Highway and 2kg he receives from Party Time will be enough only the race will tell. But boxed exactas coupling Vaughan Marshall’s youngster with Cosmic Highway, Party Time and Imilenyeyokududuma could return a decent dividend.

It is a pity there is no stable couplings in the jackpot or Pick Six as punters could probably safely banker Justin Snaith’s representatives in the grade 3 Cup Trial.

Presumably, Richard Fourie has had the choice of the quartet and he will partner Crown Towers who has been priced up at 3-1 in early betting. Nexus and Doublemint, who has the highest merit-rating, come into the equation which appeals as a betting race about as much as a trip to the dentist.

This column’s selection is Nexus who Khumalo rides for the second time. The gelding is a 66-1 chance in July betting.

Far more interesting is the grade 2 Tibouchina Stakes where Lucky Houdalakis’s runner — well drawn at gate three — can take top honours in the hands of Craig Zackey. The filly looked back to her best when third behind Summer Pudding in the grade 1 Empress Club Stakes in April.

Though the early favourite is Favorita, she might have her work cut out to beat Keep The Lights On whose form includes a third behind Princess Calla.

SELECTIONS

GOLD CHALLENGE

1. (3) Rainbow Bridge

2. (7) Belgarion

3. (1) Jet Dark

4. (5) Cirillo

CUP TRIAL

1. (5) Nexus

2. (7) Crown Towers

3. (1) Doublemint

4. (2) Tree Tumbo

TIBOUCHINA STAKES

1. (5) Wisteria Walk

2. (9) Keep The Lights On

3. (11) Favorita

4. (6) Zarina

GATECRASHER STAKES

1. (2) Incredibill

2. (3) Cosmic Highway

3. (4) Party Time

4. (9) Imilenzeyokududuma

DURBAN DASH

1. (8) Spydas Corner

2. (6) Speed Machine

3. (2) Light That Loose

4. (7) Shampompo Shampizi

DEVON AIR STAKES

1. (4) Civil Rights

2. (6) Captain’s Run

3. (9) Kailene

4. (5) Twice The Trip

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